Darby Library Goes Solar

The Darby Library has gone solar and is currently generating about sixty percent of its electricity needs from the sun.

Energy efficiency and innovative building techniques were integrated into the design and construction of our Library back in 2004.  The design called for a ground source heat pump,  good insulation and energy efficient windows, along with utilization of locally available materials such as small diameter roundwood for beams and trusses.

The latest innovation for our building is installation of 62 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on the building’s south-facing roof  this past February, which  began producing our electricity  a month later.

Former Library board member Veryl Kosteczko, also a leader of the building project, said the board’s intent was to include solar PV during Library construction, but funds weren’t available at the time.

The board was awarded a grant from Northwestern Energy through the statewide Universal System Benefits Program whereby electric utility customers pay a monthly charge that supports energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  The system was designed by Dan Brandborg of SBS Solar, a Hamilton company with 30 years of solar experience.  Private donations, including time donated by the engineers, architects, and installers involved with the project also helped.  Library Director Wendy Campbell said the electricity bill savings will allow the library to utilize tax-payer dollars more efficiently. “We outlined the costs of the installation versus the annual savings, and it was an easy decision for the Board,” she stated

The $58,000 system includes sixty-two 325-Watt panels, totaling more than 20kW of installed capacity. SBS estimated it will save the library over $3,000 per year in electrical costs. Because the system is net metered, any extra power it generates flows back to the Northwestern Energy grid and is credited to the Library, to be used during times of low power production.

For educational and monitoring purposes, SBS also installed equipment that tracks, reports and displays the system’s  current and cumulative energy production; the data can be viewed by SBS as well as by Library staff and patrons via a computer monitor.

Stop by the Library to view the consumption monitor and get more information on the system’s technical specifications.